Wednesday 19 February 2014

Big Brother is Watching!

The Government is asking your GP to transfer your electronic medical records onto a national database called the NHS Spine without seeking your consent. If you want to keep your medical records secure you have to opt out of the scheme. For information on protecting your privacy follow the link

Garden House Solicitors in Hertfordshire
Article by Patricia Ling

The problem as I see it is that your entire medical history, including details of any conversations you have with your GP, will not be secure.  This information will be uploaded to a central record system referred to as the NHS Spine which will be run by BT and Oracle and will cost an estimated £20 billion.  Those records will no longer be held at your GP’s surgery and can then be accessed by over a million NHS employees from hospital staff, your local pharmacist to thousands of NHS admin staff.  These records will also be accessed by central Government bureaucrats.  All of these people will have access to your name, address, telephone numbers (even if ex directory) and your NHS number and your GP’s details.  This sensitive information will be stored in hosting centres and will not be anonymised.  Even those who do opt out will have their medical data uploaded to the central system and the promise from the Government is that their names, addresses and dates of birth will be removed but there is no guarantee of that.  At least if you opt out your records will remain with your GP so will be safer as they will only be accessed by your own surgery.  Many GPs have seen the risks of the database failing and their patients’ medical history becoming public knowledge and they are encouraging their patients to opt out.  The General Medical Council conducted a survey and report that 9 out of 10 GPs believe that patients should be asked to give explicit consent before their medical records are uploaded to the NHS Spine and 8 out of 10 GPs polled said they were opting out and opting their own families out as well.
The problem with this database is that it is being rushed in and people have very little time to actively opt out or they will be assumed to have given consent.  I personally think people should be able to speak with their GP in confidence without fear and I worry that vulnerable people will feel unable to do that, for example victims of domestic violence, drug users, people with sexually transmitted diseases, women wanting to terminate pregnancies etc. In my personal opinion any benefits that may be gained from sharing this information will be outweighed by the risks of the data being misused. The Government have an appalling record for keeping personal data safe, there is also the very real risk that they will sell on your medical data to pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry and ultimately link the NHS Spine to its other databases – such as the Child Records Database, the DVLA databases, Revenue & Customs databases and, most worryingly, the National Identity Register (IDCards) and the DNA Database.

If you want to opt out you must do it now as once your data is uploaded to the NHS Spine it will be virtually impossible to remove it even if you change your mind.  However if you opt out now and change your mind your data can be simply uploaded to the NHS Spine.

I am very interested to hear what other people feel about this subject particularly if any GPs or NHS staff are reading this. 

If you want to opt out here is the link

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The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

1 comment:

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